Lisa McCray is a hard-working and reliable hair stylist to hundreds between Sacramento and San Diego, a loyal friend to many, and a selfless mother to one beautiful daughter, Bria. Like many, Lisa is self-employed and relies heavily on her hair business to support her family. As a current friend and client, I have never known Lisa to take more than a day or two off work. This is because self-employment means no vacation, no sick days, no medical leave. And, most importantly for the McCray-Youngs, self-employment means there is no corporate insurance package to help offset the cost of enormous medical bills...
In June of 2017, Lisa’s daughter, Bria, underwent an 8-hour procedure for a newly discovered heart condition. After a prolonged recovery, the McCray-Youngs were left with thousands of dollars in medical expenses. They have worked hard for the past two years to pay off these bills, but when 2019 arrived they were dealt an unimaginable set of personal and financial blows that set them far off course:
Just before Christmas this past year, after over a year of doctors trying to figure out why Lisa had 60 lbs of unexplained weight loss, fatigue, and nausea, Lisa learned that she had cervical dysplasia CIN3 (a high-grade, pre-cancerous growth of cells on the cervix). Normally, this type of lesion can be removed successfully with a relatively safe procedure. However, Lisa’s treatment was delayed six months while she awaited clearance from her cardiologist due to an underlying heart condition. After much anticipation, her pre-cancer was removed in May of 2019. She arrived at her post-operative appointment, thinking she was in the clear, only to learn that she had a 3 x 9 mm malignant tumor in one of the three sections that were removed. Her pre-cancer was, in fact, full grade invasive cervical cancer. This new diagnosis meant that Lisa was soon to undergo a radical hysterectomy and lymph node dissection, not only to try cure her cancer, but also to explore how far this cancer had spread and whether she would need radiation and chemotherapy. Lisa recently met with her oncologist in early July to schedule her second surgery and is currently preparing for this surgery on August 12th. She will be out of work for 2-3 months to recover. But this isn’t the only blow that hit the McCray-Young family this year…
While Lisa was awaiting her first procedure, her husband, Jeff, was diagnosed with colon cancer in March of 2019. Because his cancer was more progressed at the time of discovery, he quickly underwent surgery to remove a portion of his colon and 12 surrounding lymph nodes. This procedure was called off after just two hours, as his surgeons were unable to locate the dye marker that was injected into the cancer-ridden areas during a prior colonoscopy. He will now need to undergo routine full body scans and expensive colonoscopies every three months to monitor for progression of cancer. He will still have to undergo colectomy (removal of part or all of the colon) as soon as more cancerous tissue is visualized. Like Lisa, Jeff is now months past his original diagnosis date with no answers as to how far his cancer has spread. His life, work, and health are on hold as he awaits a definitive treatment plan. We will continue to provide updates on Jeff and Lisa's treatment journey as they meet with their oncologists...
Jeff and Lisa have an amazing support network of friends, clients, and family members, but most importantly their daughter, Bria. She has been remarkably strong despite watching both parents jump head first into the fight against cancer. Bria is headed off to college this fall, and fortunately federal grants have become available to help offset the cost of attendance. However, the cost of continuing to run their individual businesses, on top of paying for life-saving cancer treatments and surgeries, is beginning to pile up.
To put it in perspective, in order for Lisa and Jeff to take just one week off to undergo a life-saving procedure, they must sacrifice ¼ of the monthly income that is used to cover rent and other business fees, in addition to personal and living expenses for that month. Add in a day or two for every imaging, lab test, biopsy, chemotherapy or radiation treatment and the bills become overwhelming. Lisa and Jeff must additionally take time off to serve as one another’s caregiver during treatment, which means the financial burden is doubled.
Lisa and Jeff have faced their new reality with a great amount of resilience, but now they are faced with so much financial uncertainty that the fight against cancer seems impossible. Nobody should have to sacrifice their business, home, cars, and emotional security in order to be able to afford life-saving medical treatment... That is why I am asking us all to come together as a community and support this beautiful family through an unimaginably difficult time.
If it is within your means, please join our team in supporting this fundraiser on behalf of the McCray-Young family. Your donation will help cover:
- Surgical costs that remain after insurance, for both prior and upcoming procedures
- Hospital stays following each procedure (approx. $2,000)
- Treatment costs, which will likely include chemotherapy (approx. $30,000 for an 8-week course, per person) and radiation for advanced stage cancers
- Living and business expenses (approx. $30,000 to get to the end of the year), as neither Jeff nor Lisa receive income for medical leave while undergoing treatment and have already sacrificed more than 25% of their income opportunities this year
Thank you for taking the time out of your day to read about Lisa and Jeff’s fight. Each person can help in his or her own way. If you are unable to donate, you can still help spread awareness and increase the number of screens this campaign crosses by sharing with friends, family and coworkers.